AUSTIN, Texas - Earlier this month, longtime Austin restaurant owner Willie Showels passed away from COVID-19. He started Willies Bar-B-Q over 30-years ago in East Austin and has become a man the community has grown to love and respect.
While being most notably known his BBQ joint, his son Cedric Showels tells Fox 7 Austin that his father was a hardworking man, devoted father, and a man of faith. Adding that he was the glue that held their family together, and the shoulder people at the restaurant would lean on when they needed advice.
“So many came up to him for advice, so many wanted to sit down and eat while my dad would give them advice about life because they knew it was good," he said.
Saying because of his friendly attitude, Willie never met a stranger in his life. Meaning everyone he came in contact with, he treated them with kindness, love, and compassion. Cedric says because of that, Willie is leaving behind a legacy many are looking up to.
“He wanted to put a smile on everyone’s face,” Cedric Showels said. “He wanted everyone’s heart to be merry and cheerful, and you can't forget people like that. You would go back to work and you would work hard all week long and you would start looking forward like 'I need to go see Mr. Willie because he's going to have some good food and some music."
However, even with running a business, Cedric said his father always made time for his family and children.
“He had a big family – 11 children,” he said.
Eleven children though that learned life lessons and valuable advice from a man who lived each day to the fullest, Cedric said.
“Dad set the standard for us, and we have been working hard ever since,” he said. “I often told my dad to his face: ‘Dad, if I am half the man you were, I'll be a good man.”
While Mr. Willie may not be there, in person, to sit down and give out his life advice, or his warm-welcoming smile, his family says his legacy and his heart will always live on.
"So sometimes you're going to lose some battles, but that doesn't mean you're going to lose the war,” Cedric said. “He was a warrior, he was a soldier, he kept on fighting, and that's why the community took to him."
The family is having a private service Monday afternoon. They will live stream it – the link is posted on Willie’s Bar-B-Q’s Facebook Page.
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